Brought to you by Paulina Caldarelli from Erion
The supply of critical raw materials (CRMs) has been a frequently addressed and growing issue since 2011. Import dependency and recent bottlenecks in supply chains post-COVID have underscored the need to address this criticality innovatively and the Digital Product Passport (DPP) might be one of the missing puzzle pieces: providing key information for managing the supply and contributing to reuse and recycling.
The growing awareness of challenges related to the availability of critical raw materials for the energy transition has prompted the European Union (EU) to explore innovative solutions like the “Digital Passport for Products for the Reuse and Recycling of Critical Raw Materials.”
The issue of sourcing these materials has been equally emphasised in the context of the EU’s import dependence; for instance, 93% of imported magnesium comes from China. Addressing this reliance is crucial to support the transition to renewable energy and the electrification of transportation.
The proposed digital passport aims to manage the supply of critical raw materials, enabling the recovery of these resources at component and material levels. This system relies on a physical-digital link through product tags, making a product universally identifiable, and its information accessible online and offline.
The implementation of this digital passport would involve dynamic information management throughout a product’s lifecycle, encompassing product records, material statements, lifecycle status updates, and information on the presence of critical raw materials. The use of an artificial intelligence architecture based on dataspace would ensure adherence to global and European standards.
However, the realisation of the digital product passport faces critical challenges. Currently, over a billion electrical and electronic products in the EU market lack these passports, posing a significant obstacle. What’s more, investments in critical raw material extraction technologies at recycling facilities must be significantly increased.
Standardising sustainability and traceability statements from manufacturers is another key element, ensuring a uniform basis for information management. Introducing legislative incentives, such as a mandatory percentage of recycled content of critical raw materials in sustainable products shall not be neglected either.
CE-RISE Supporting the Transition with Sustainable CRM Management
The CE-RISE information system for critical raw materials will represent an innovative response to supply challenges. By promoting recycling, reuse, and computerised management, it seeks to ensure a continuous supply of critical raw materials to support the green transition. However, its realisation requires joint commitment, investments, and a coherent legislative strategy addressing Europe’s dependence on these resources.